Bill raises workers’ comp 5%

nfib-logoBy Jan Meekcoms
Oregon NFIB

Bill would raise attorney fees.

Small business owners could see a 5 percent increase in workers’ compensation premiums under a bill being considered in the Oregon legislature.

House Bill 2764 would raise attorney fees and create new scenarios in which fees could be awarded.

“Oregon’s workers’ compensation system is a model system often emulated in the rest of the country for its efficiency and low rates,” says Jan Meekcoms, NFIB state director for Oregon. “Besides raising rates by 5 percent, HB 2764 would be the first step in undoing our workers’ compensation model that has been so successful for the purpose of lining the pockets of attorneys.”

Before the reforms of 1990, the state’s system was in crisis: Employer costs and worker injury rates were among the highest in the nation, while worker benefits were among the lowest. Since then, however, employer costs have declined more than 60 percent, worker benefits are consistently at or above the national median, injury rates have decreased more than 50 percent and litigation has declined significantly. And while other states have been reducing benefits, Oregon’s system has remained steady.

But despite reforms, workers’ compensation premiums are still one of the biggest costs of doing business, so an increase means employers would have to decide between hiring more workers or approving requested overtime for current employees, Meekcoms wrote in the Salem Business Journal.

The bill passed the House 32-27 on May 5 and is being heard in Senate committees before being called to the floor for a vote. NFIB/Oregon is testifying in opposition.

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